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SCHOOL TEAMS DISCUSS HOT TOPICS IN TV DEBATE

Some of the hot issues of the day -- at least from young people's perspective -- were debated Friday during the first-ever Kidsvention.

The lively two-hour debate was aired on WNEQ/Channel 23 and involved teams from 12 schools picked from among 60 that competed for a spot. It was organized by the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association and Kids Voting New York as part of the effort to involve young people -- and their parents -- in the voting process.

Participants in the Kids Voting program will vote on the three issues on Election Day, Nov. 4.

Pro and con teams debated:

Do you think the mandated wearing of student uniforms has a positive effect on student achievement?

Should applicants for a driver's license be required to have a high school diploma?

Should there be a state Constitutional Convention?

Seventh-graders from Amherst Middle School and ninth-graders from Frontier Senior High argued for uniforms, saying there has been a reduction in violence and rise in performance in schools where they are required.

"The focus shifts from the neck-down, to the neck-up," said Yuliya Yusim of Amherst Middle.

Uniforms are actually less expensive than keeping up with the latest fashion trends, argued Kim Kane of Frontier.

But they are an unconstitutional infringement on the right to free expression, countered Lisa Edmunds, a seventh-grader at the Frederick Law Olmsted School, No. 56.

Aidan Adams, a City Honors ninth-grader, said none of the studies claiming to show positive effects from uniforms would stand up to a rigorous scientific inquiry.

Eighth-graders from St. Paul's School and 10th-graders from Kenmore East had their work cut out trying to convince audience members, who also were allowed to participate, that a diploma should be a required for a driver's license.

The accident rate goes down as the driving age goes up and there should be a graduated licensing system, argued Chris Dearing, Mauren Domzalski and Brendan Ciura of St. Paul's.

It's not about age, but experience, countered John Mion, an eighth-grader at East Aurora Middle School.

A license would be an incentive to stay in school, argued Alyson MacVittie of Kenmore West.

Why should responsible students and drivers be punished for the acts of a few irresponsible ones? countered Sara Ayler of Kenmore West.

Eleventh-graders from the Park School and seniors at Buffalo Traditional argued in favor of a Constitutional Convention while teams from Williamsville East and Lancaster High said it should be voted down.

State Education Commissioner Richard Mills appeared briefly and praised the students for their involvement.

The program will be rebroadcast on Channel 23 at 1 p.m. Monday.

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